Mark Rakobowchuk

Favourite Thing: Come up with crazy ideas and then test them in the lab. Like, What fuels (fat, sugars or proteins) do people use when they are put in a really cold room and have to shiver for hours? Or Why do some people get sick right after they exercise really intensely?



St Paul’s High School (Ottawa, Canada 1991-1998)


University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Canada 1998-2002), McMaster University (Hamilton, Canada 2002-2008)

Work History:

University of Leeds (Leeds, West Yorkshire)


University of Essex (Colchester, Essex)

Current Job:

Lecturer and Researcher

Me and my work

I try to figure out what enables a blood vessel to get bigger and more useful after training and what happens to your blood vessels when you’re lazy all the time!

I’m a Canadian who came to the UK about 3.5 years ago to do research into how blood vessels repair themselves after exercise. I began that work at the University of Leeds and then moved to Colchester to work as a Lecturer at the University of Essex.

My passions are sport, mostly running, cycling, climbing and now mountaineering along side research and teaching. In general I work in three areas, 1) playing with cells in a biology lab 2) measuring blood vessels and the heart with Ultrasound and 3) Chatting about research with my colleagues and writing reports.

My Typical Day

My typical day involves writing a lot either about what I want to research, what I’ve already researched then yelling at people to work harder on a bike or looking at cells in the cell biology lab.

I roll out of bed and check my email. Usually cycle to work, which isn’t very far (5km) and check emails again. Lately because I am a new Lecturer I spend a lot of time sitting at my desk reading/researching and writing grants. Grants are like competitions for scientists where we write about what questions we want to answer and how we are going to answer our questions (methods), then we send them to different organisations and they judge them and sometimes give us money to do the research. So in the morning I read lots of scientific papers, discuss the ideas with people I work with over coffee. Most times I eat at my desk at lunch time and check out BBC news. In the afternoon I sometimes teach students about nutrition and how the body gets better if you exercise a lot. Then I might write up the results of some of my past experiments or run new experiments like taking blood samples and growing the white blood cells and ‘play’ with them. I test how well they move, if they divide and what kind of cells they are.

I usually end my day around 6pm, cycle home. When I get home I have a dinner and then usually go do some exercise/sport like run climb or cycle some more.

What I'd do with the money

I would use the money to fund workshops for young athletes about science in sport

Many young athletes do not know why they do the types of training they do and what the best ways of training are. This is mainly because coaches are not up to date about what the research says. I always wanted to know what the science said about training when I was a young athlete, but I couldn’t read the research papers because they were too complicated. Now that I know how to read them I think it would be beneficial to build either a web-site or provide workshops to young athletes about the truths and myths of training and nutrition in sport.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

motivated, friendly, adventurous

Would you rather be a scientist or an athlete? And why?

Scientist. I really love the challenge of finding stuff out and I always have questions I want to answer.

If you could have a body super power, what would it be and why?

I would be have super endurance because I always have dreams where I get tired from running and I hate getting beat.

Which Olympic event would you most like to win? And why?

I would most like to win the 3000m Steeplechase in athletics. As an athlete I enjoyed this event mostly because of the water jump and the hurdling. It was the most fun event in athletics.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wanted to work for Nike building the next great shoes.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

I did once get in a fight and won! But in the end I lost because I ended up in the principals office and detention. Not worth it in the end.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I luckily saved a guys life when testing because he had a tumour (bit growth) in his heart that we found with Ultrasound. If he hadn’t have been tested it would have killed him!

Tell us a joke.

What’s harder to catch the faster you run? Your breath!